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Caring for a baby is hard work. No, scrap that – it’s exhausting at best and mentally and physically draining at worst.
Sometimes we even have to deal with those people who make comments like ‘you chose it’.
The trouble is, we spend our lives running around our little ones and being pulled in all sorts of directions that is we’re not careful, we can arrive at a wall we don’t know how to overcome.
And yet these women exist that seem to still have their sanity in tact – how do they do it? Surely there’s something I’m missing I hear you say.
How does one even think about dedicating time to herself in such a hectic day full of changes, feedings and pleas?
How do we wind down amidst the endless to-do list of a busy week?
Not to worry, we’ll tackle these questions now. Keep reading…
1) Healthy(ish) diet
Note I put ish cause we’re not saints nor supermodels.
The most important thing here is to feed your heart.
Now you’re thinking I’ve completely lost my mind. Let me explain.
When we’re cooking for the family several days a week, it’s easy to lose any ounce of creativity or inspiration – and that’s where the temptation comes in to order a takeaway.
Love what you cook
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with takeaways. Just if 50 percent of your meals are made up of them, it’s time to have a sit down and scour Pinterest for some recipe inspiration.
One of the best tips out there that other moms swear by is: freezer meals. Home cooked, ready to thaw in the morning and whip up in the one pot for dinner.
Seriously, if you haven’t caught onto this yet, it’s a must.
Unfortunately, I have to admit I’ve been falling off the bandwagon recently and I can tell – there is just something so exhausting about having to think every day about what you’ve got in and what you can whip up.
In the mom world, it’s known as meal planning. Basically, you sacrifice a few hours of your Sunday for a more peaceful week and a calmer mommy. There’s even this post on how you can make 10 meals in 3 hours! Now if that isn’t time and stress saving ….
Don’t laugh in my face. I know you’ve still got kids who aren’t sleeping through the night or a night-nursing baby.
But to be relatively human in our day to day life, we need to start making a sleep priority.
I feel like the worst candidate for saying this as sometimes I go to bed way too late (11pm, what a rebel!) in order to have some alone time scrolling through the internet…chances are I’m not doing anything vaguely constructive though and should just shut my eyes.
How to get extra sleep in
I find that reading before bed helps…only because I become so tired that my eyes start closing on the third page in. Granted, it’s not as if I’m actually taking anything in, but I am out like a light.
So, the point is: is there anything you can sacrific a couple of nights a week (at least) to get some extra shut eye?
Can daddy take the reins on bedtime stories so you can have a hot bath and get ready for bed? What about finally taking on board all that ‘newborn’ advice and napping with the baby once in a while?
There are so many benefits even in little power naps. If your kids are old enough, don’t feel guilty and put a show on for half an hour while you doze next to them.
I guarantee you once you start to implement some quality rest in your routine you will start to feel more replenished in no time. Note to self.
One thing I use to help me drift off when I’m feeling anxious is relaxation music and it works on the baby too! I’m currently listening to this one free because I signed up to Prime.
The best thing is you get a month-long trial to test out what works for you. Try before you buy!
3) Meet up with friends
I know you’re busy and life gets the best of you. However, a little excursion for a coffee or brunch goes a long way.
Before we know it, months past since we last saw our best friend – and chatting over messages doesn’t count.
In fact, I’m going to schedule a date right now with the nearest mom friend, it will do me good to get out a little as I’m really focused on writing at the moment.
Being able to enjoy the company of someone who’s in the boat as you can work wonders for your soul. You’ll feel less alone in the journey of parenting – and who doesn’t love a good side-splitting chuckle?
The best thing you can do is make it a regular thing – the more you get into the habit, the more you’ll start to crave it…and that’s never a bad thing!
Are you feeling a bit lost mama?
Ugh I hear you say. Who’s got time for that?
The greatest amount of exercise that I got for the first few months of baby life was going up and downstairs all day searching for missing items and endless nappy changes.
So I know how you feel. You either get up before the kids and squeeze in a quick run or you try and save it til the end of the day…only to find yourself decompressing with a tub of ice cream in hand.
Exercise doesn’t have to be dull
I for one, being a creative at heart, can’t do boring workouts anymore. I stumbled upon these belly dance workouts a while back and they’ve got me hooked.
Not only is it easier than you think, the teacher Leilah is a really bubbly, fun woman to easily get motivated with.
Needless to say, my 8 month old is mesmerized with the sounds of my hip scarf – win win!
That brings me onto another idea: if you can’t get your exercise done on your own, why not bring the kids into it? Put on a funny workout and have a laugh as you go along.
Or you can invent your own – see what the little ones can come up with! Make it fun, you’ll soon see what an endorphine boost it can be.
5) Go for a stroll
When you’ve been sicked on for the third time in a row and have an unmanageable pile of laundry on the go, sometimes you just need to go outside and blow off some steam.
Hand the baby over to your partner if you feel like being alone or take baby out in a carrier – they always love the change of scenery.
If your kids are old enough, great! Tell them you’re going on an outing and give them special explorer tasks to complete, things to discover. Even better if you can find a play date so you can have a chat too, while the kids are doing their thing.
Quick tip: put blister preventing strips in your walking shoes to make sure you stay comfortable.
We’re lucky to live in the countryside so we’re never short of inspiration. Though I do have a little pamphlet of new walks to try out cause seeing the same cows every day is never fun.
Bonus: a day trip out to a local farm totally counts if you walk around the time five times – which is more the likely with small children.
6) Get creative
If you feel more like getting your creative juices flowing, there are some activities you can do too.
When you have a project to work on – whether big or small, it helps create an identity outside of that of a mother.
Some ideas if you’re not sure where to start could be:
- re-paint an old piece of furniture
- DIY photo or mirror frames
- get a taste of sensory painting – you can do it with your baby!
If you’re more of a person that needs a guide, you could always get yourself an adult colouring book.
I got one as a present a couple of months after the birth – once I had more time on my hands I found it really helpful to de-stress. Colouring is a pretty non-conscious brain activity so useful for emptying your mind.
Plus there’s something so nostalgic in colouring in care-free just as we used to do as kids.
7) Take a class
My definition of self-care is anything that you love and makes you feel yourself again. Anything that replenishes your energy – and yoga is a great way to do that.
Most gyms have a wide variety of classes and times so you can ask about them and find what works for you.
One thing that really motivated me a few years back was going with a friend. We busted some serious moves in a Body Combat class together – laughing all the while.
If you take a friend along with you, you’ve already made a promise that you can’t just turn her down last minute!
And you won’t feel so nervous about getting the moves wrong.
Bonus: this counts as social time too!
8) Eat dessert
I know this sounds quite contrasting to the first point I made about healthy eating – but you can’t be an angel all the time.
Anyway, you know there are tons of dessert recipes you can make the healthy way? Ever heard of, for instance chocolate mousse made with avocado? Trust me, it’s yummier than you think.
Or you can make sugar-free chocolate brownies…or this healthy fruit recipe if chocolate’s not really your thing. (Do those people exist??!)
I’m not saying that you should devour an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s a day, but feel free to indulge in your favourite treat in a while.
I think this term has us all running out the door whenever someone mentions it. We all believe that it’s something that only the gurus do, or that you have to be a calm person in the first place to able to succeed.
Well I’ve got news for you: meditation is not an exclusive practice for the professionals – in fact it’s more accesible and doable than we think.
That’s because, if you stop and analyse the core of mediation, you might find that we actually already do it inconsciously.
Insconscious meditative moments
All those times that you scroll through facebook without actually reading anything that’s been posted? Flicking blindly through the TV channels? Putting on a podcast to then realise that you weren’t listening to a word that’s being said?
Those are all prime examples of completely ‘zone out’ moments that we have in our day-to-day.
Meditation is all about finding the present moment and living it. That means slowing down thoughts about the past and future: because that it is what our brain is limited to.
Our brain is only wired to think of what has been and what is to come. That’s why we’re always caught up either reminiscing, or planning.
When we meet in the middle – through any kind of activity, BAM we’re in the present.
So how do we tap into this present moment in a conscious manner?
I would say that the first thing we have to do as busy moms is to observe the high-stress moments during our day and in those moments, stop what we’re doing and take a deep breath.
Just one deep breath can really take us back to our core and let go of any tension we may be holding.
Once we have more awareness of this feeling, then we can start a more in-depth practice a few times a week.
Choose your quietest part of the day – for most moms this will be either before the kids get up or during nap time – and dedicate this time for being with yourself.
I recently discovered an app a friend recommended called Insight.
There you can find guided meditations according to keywords you enter, relaxation music and a timer to see to track how you’re doing if you want to do it alone.
Sometimes just a few minutes in the morning is enough to feel more tuned into yourself throughout the day – or it can be useful to ‘regroup’ if you’re caught up in too many tasks.